Despite countless rumors and rampant speculation that Arizona head coach Sean Miller was bolting for the Maryland job, Wildcat fans received the best news they could imagine as it was announced Miller was not taking the Maryland position and would return to UA.
The 48 hours prior to the announcement was the most stressful period of time for UA fans since the coaching search two seasons ago. There were many reasons Miller was strongly considering taking the Terrapins' job, but his return negates any of that discussion. What is important is that the Wildcats have one of the best young coaches in the country returning for his third season.
Miller's return saves the Arizona basketball program from a potential public relations nightmare. Two years ago, every target - including Miller himself - turned the offer down to be UA's head coach. Miller changed his mind and ultimately took the position and it appeared Arizona had its coach for the present as well as the future.
Losing another coach over a short period of time wouldn't have looked good for the Wildcats. Arizona is generally thought of as one of the top programs in the country.
UA being able to retain Miller in this scenario cements the fact that Arizona remains as a serious player in the landscape of college basketball. Coming off a surprise Elite Eight appearance, Miller was able to put UA basketball back on the map quicker than anyone could have even anticipated.
It's also huge for Arizona for the simple fact that losing a head coach can always be damaging to an incoming recruiting class. When Lute Olson abruptly retired, the Wildcats lost commits Abdul Gaddy, Solomon Hill (who later returned when Miller was hired) and Mike Moser. Had Miller left for Maryland, UA could have seen its top-10 class take a serious plunge if players bailed.
Then there are the current players on the roster. UA will have a junior dominated team next season and had Miller not returned, there is the possibility that some current Wildcats could have taken their games elsewhere and left Arizona's cupboards bare.
This also saves UA from having to go through another coaching search. Two years ago, Miller saved UA from potential national embarrassment when he took a position that several coaches - including himself - reportedly turned down. The Wildcats didn't have much returning, didn't have a recruiting class and appeared to be a serious rebuilding project. Until Miller took the job, Arizona was receiving rejection after rejection by coaches that aren't even in Miller's league.
Now that everyone knows Miller is staying put, Arizona basketball and its fans can rest easy knowing that it has its leader for many years to come. Some believed that Maryland was a dream job for Miller and that it was hard for him to turn down. Miller obviously recognizes what he is building in Tucson. He was one possession away from the Final Four in only his second season for a program that appeared to be a lost cause before he signed on.
The Wildcats are back to being a prominent force on a national level and it's largely in part to Miller and his staff. Losing him to a school on the other side of the country had devastation written all over it. Instead, Miller stuck to his guns and will finish what he started two years ago.
Just where that finish line stands remains to be seen. The landscape of college basketball is constantly changing. Miller had an opportunity to coach in the ACC, but coaching in the Pac-12 is going to have its benefits in the near future. The conference just received a lucrative television deal that is going to help out each school's athletic department. Given the strength and popularity of the Arizona basketball program, it should be able to reap the benefits of that deal with Miller still on the bench.
The one thing it does for Arizona fans is assure them that the Wildcats are still relevant in the world of college basketball. Anyone who is a fan of the message board or social media world has seen many other fans question Arizona's place in the landscape of it all. What would it have meant for Miller to bail on a team he took to an elite Eight less than 24 months from the moment he took the job? What would critics have said if Miller walked away from the stellar recruiting class him and his staff together for another rebuilding project?
Luckily for UA fans, they won't have to ask those questions.
Miller's departure would have been damaging
Wildcat Authority Top Stories
Video: Sean Miller after UC IrvineSean Miller meets with the media after Arizona's win over Irvine.
Wildcat AuthorityYesterday at 9:45 PM
Arizona bounces back with easy winArizona defeated Irvine at McKale Tuesday night. Read on for a full recap.
Wildcat AuthorityYesterday at 8:44 PM
Breakdown: Arizona vs. UC IrvineArizona will return home to face UC Irvine on Tuesday night. Read on for statistics, a positional breakdown, and a score prediction.
Wildcat AuthorityMonday at 5:25 PM
Lack of depth hurting WildcatsSean Miller discusses how Arizona's missing players have had a negative impact on the season.
Wildcat AuthoritySunday at 6:07 PM